Hours after their families made an urgent appeal, two Long Island medical students trapped in hurricane-battered St. Maarten were safely evacuated.
Nicholas Weber, 24, of Bayville, and Asvin Sivapalan, 23, of Floral Park, were flown to Puerto Rico on Saturday in planes provided by the territory’s Air National Guard, officials said.
Sivapalan is a first-year medical student at American Univerity of the Caribbean; Weber just began his senior year there, the families said.
“The conditions are deteriorating, and I want my son home as soon as possible,” said Siva Sivapalan, Asvin Sivapalan’s mother.
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) held a noon news conference Saturday with the families outside his Huntington office, pledging to do all he could to help. He later credited the State Department and Department of Defense for coordinating the evacuations of the students and other Americans.
“I’m very relieved, and I’m very grateful,” Suozzi said.
Officials are concerned that the island will be further devastated by Hurricane Jose, a Category 4 storm following closing on Irma’s heels, making rescue even more difficult.
Rudy Weber, Nicholas Weber’s father, said the school did its best to protect the students from Irma’s wrath.
Two campus buildings were constructed to be hurricane-proof and much of the student population was sheltered on the campus. The two buildings survived, but Rudy Weber and Siva Sivapalan said they were told supplies were running low.
Dutch officials said Saturday that 70 percent of homes on St. Maarten were destroyed by Irma.
With Mark Morales